SHOOTING STOCK AT STATELY HOMES WITH A NIKON Df and FUJI X-T1

FOR ALL MY POSTS ON THE FUJI X-T1 - CLICK HERE

Somebody commented that certain places, i.e. stately homes, might have restrictions on commercial photography. However, the implications of that are somewhat confused and I generally leave decisions as to whether to accept or use the images up to the libraries and clients.

Apart from anything else, I'm usually seeking to create generic images that show no specific location. This can be achieved by composition, cropping or even reversing images. Because these generic images sell better than pictures that show specific places anyway. 

Stately homes, with their manicured gardens and estates are great places for this. They are usually presented in the best possible way for their tourist visitors. In fact one of my best selling images is of a very neat lawn with a border full of summer plants behind, taken at such a . It could however be anywhere and is a classic stock shot.

And if you have ambitions to be a stock photographer, this is what you should be looking for. Specific place shots are restricted to a travel / features / editorial market, whereas non- specific generic shots have a much wider appeal. While the door and gate shots might look somewhat prosaic, I sell a LOT of gates and doors. These would be some of the keywords I would use - entrance, gateway, closed, private, farm, garden, grounds, green, estate, doors, gates, countryside, rural, shed, front door, trees, wood, woods, field, firewall, security, barred, keep out, private, home, domestic, property, real estate, summer, september, day, daylight, etc. You can obviously see the uses for images that say the above.

The other thing that is important for stock photography is to create a simple, easily identifiable image that makes it's point without having to look intently at it to see what is going on. As I've often written, I have to get people to click on my images from a very small thumbnail, often surrounded by other images, the majority of which are also taken by experienced photographers who know what they are doing.

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I was also having an email conversation about the relative merits of the Df and X-T1 for different situations. And the X-T1 is a less noticeable camera. Now sometimes that's useful and sometimes it's not. And it's also quieter than the DSLR. Both those things can be useful, though in a stately home setting, usually not essential, since there are a lot of cameras about.

But whatever gear you use, the skill to creating successful stock imagery is to develop an eye for what makes a useful picture and make the best of what you have with you. The four images above were taken with the X-T1 and an advantage it has over the Df is that it has a moveable screen. Now what this does is allow me to shoot very easily at a lower angle. The Df,  like all cameras with fixed screens is a total pain to use low down. As you will all be aware it's VERY difficult to see the screen and usually impossible to see through the viewfinder. So in situations like those above the X-T1 opens up other possibilities for me.

Incidentally, it always bewilders me as to why only Panasonic consistently put an all angle tiltable screen on their cameras. Because, useful as the ability to move the screen on the X-T1 is, it's hopeless for vertical / portrait format shots. Whereas the all-angle screen on my FZ1000 can be used to create low-angle (or high-angle of course) images either vertically or horizontally.

Finally, I've often made the point that successful stock photography has very little to do with art. That fancy HDR, beautifully lit landscape may get you lots of plaudits from your internet buddies, but that is no guarantee that anyone will buy it on a stock site. Again regular readers will know that my best selling shot ever (1500 sales already and still going) is of a bathroom. So the last piece of advice in this post is to never ignore the ordinary and the commonplace. You can try a creative take on it, to make it somewhat less ordinary, but don't forget to take the simple version as well.